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The existing U.S. residential housing stock is increasingly exposed to storm surge and coastal flooding. For example, over 650,000 single-family residential homes were damaged or destroyed following Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The construction industry must meet increased post-disaster demand for construction services to facilitate repair and reconstruction of residential homes damaged by disasters. Construction capacity, defined here as the maximum building volume a construction industry can supply with available resources, determines how efficiently residential housing is rebuilt following a disaster. To better prepare for post-disaster reconstruction, this study addresses the question: how do we measure pre-disaster construction capacity at the state-level, and how does it compare to post-disaster reconstruction? We analyzed this question for single-family residential housing in the states of New Jersey and New York following Hurricane Sandy. Building on literature from construction supply chain management theory, we: (a) identified construction wholesale trade (material) and residential contractor (labor) establishments within New Jersey and New York; (b) measured state-level pre-disaster construction capacity as the net value of residential construction that can be performed in a given year; (c) calculated post-disaster losses for single-family residential housing based on FEMA damage inspections; and (d) compared pre-disaster construction capacity and single-family residential housing unit counts to post-disaster housing reconstruction progress, using a cross case comparison. Results highlight the extent to which construction resources within New Jersey and New York were capable of meeting post-disaster demand for residential construction. Furthermore, the novel methodology developed and employed can be used to assess whether construction capacity can meet demand following a disaster in other regions.

Arneson, E., Hallowell, M., and Javernick-Will, A. (2017). “How Pre-Disaster Construction Capacity Affects Post-Disaster Rebuilding of Residential Housing." Construction Specialty Conference. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.